QUESTION 44: OF (CHRIST'S) MIRACLES CONSIDERED SPECIFICALLY
We have now to consider each kind of miracle:
(1) The miracles which He worked in spiritual substances;
(2) The miracles which He worked in heavenly bodies;
(3) The miracles which He worked in man;
(4) The miracles which He worked in irrational creatures.
Article 1: Whether those miracles were fitting which Christ worked in spiritual substances?
Objection 1: It would seem that those miracles were unfitting which Christ
worked in spiritual substances. For among spiritual substances the holy
angels are above the demons; for, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii): "The
treacherous and sinful rational spirit of life is ruled by the rational,
pious, and just spirit of life." But we read of no miracles worked by
Christ in the good angels. Therefore neither should He have worked
miracles in the demons.
Objection 2: Further, Christ's miracles were ordained to make known His
Godhead. But Christ's Godhead was not to be made known to the demons:
since this would have hindered the mystery of His Passion, according to 1
Cor. 2:8: "If they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord
of glory." Therefore He should not have worked miracles in the demons.
Objection 3: Further, Christ's miracles were ordained to the glory of God:
hence it is written (Mt. 9:8) that "the multitudes seeing" that the man
sick of the palsy had been healed by Christ, "feared, and glorified God
that gave such power to men." But the demons have no part in glorifying
God; since "praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner" (Ecclus.
15:9). For which reason also "He suffered them not to speak" (Mk. 1:34;
Lk. 4:41) those things which reflected glory on Him. Therefore it seems
that it was unfitting for Him to work miracles in the demons.
Objection 4: Further, Christ's miracles are ordained to the salvation of
mankind. But sometimes the casting out of demons from men was detrimental
to man, in some cases to the body: thus it is related (Mk. 9:24,25) that
a demon at Christ's command, "crying out and greatly tearing" the man,
"went out of him; and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead";
sometimes also to things: as when He sent the demons, at their own
request, into the swine, which they cast headlong into the sea; wherefore
the inhabitants of those parts "besought Him that He would depart from
their coasts" (Mt. 8:31-34). Therefore it seems unfitting that He should
have worked such like miracles.
On the contrary, this was foretold (Zach. 13:2), where it is written: "I
will take away . . . the unclean spirit out of the earth."
I answer that, The miracles worked by Christ were arguments for the
faith which He taught. Now, by the power of His Godhead He was to rescue
those who would believe in Him, from the power of the demons; according
to Jn. 12:31: "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out."
Consequently it was fitting that, among other miracles, He should also
deliver those who were obsessed by demons.
Reply to Objection 1: Just as men were to be delivered by Christ from the power
of the demons, so by Him were they to be brought to the companionship of
the angels, according to Col. 1:20: "Making peace through the blood of
His cross, both as to the things on earth and the things that are in
heaven." Therefore it was not fitting to show forth to men other miracles
as regards the angels, except by angels appearing to men: as happened in
His Nativity, His Resurrection, and His Ascension.
Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ix): "Christ was known to
the demons just as much as He willed; and He willed just as far as there
was need. But He was known to them, not as to the holy angels, by that
which is eternal life, but by certain temporal effects of His power."
First, when they saw that Christ was hungry after fasting they deemed Him
not to be the Son of God. Hence, on Lk. 4:3, "If Thou be the Son of God,"
etc., Ambrose says: "What means this way of addressing Him? save that,
though He knew that the Son of God was to come, yet he did not think that
He had come in the weakness of the flesh?" But afterwards, when he saw
Him work miracles, he had a sort of conjectural suspicion that He was the
Son of God. Hence on Mk. 1:24, "I know who Thou art, the Holy one of
God," Chrysostom [*Victor of Antioch. Cf. Catena Aurea] says that "he had
no certain or firm knowledge of God's coming." Yet he knew that He was
"the Christ promised in the Law," wherefore it is said (Lk. 4:41) that
"they knew that He was Christ." But it was rather from suspicion than
from certainty that they confessed Him to be the Son of God. Hence Bede
says on Lk. 4:41: "The demons confess the Son of God, and, as stated
farther on, 'they knew that He was Christ.' For when the devil saw Him
weakened by His fast, He knew Him to be a real man: but when He failed to
overcome Him by temptation, He doubted lest He should be the Son of God.
And now from the power of His miracles He either knew, or rather
suspected that He was the Son of God. His reason therefore for persuading
the Jews to crucify Him was not that he deemed Him not to be Christ or
the Son of God, but because he did not foresee that he would be the loser
by His death. For the Apostle says of this mystery" (1 Cor. 2:7,8),
"which is hidden from the beginning, that 'none of the princes of this
world knew it,' for if they had known it they would never have crucified
the Lord of glory."
Reply to Objection 3: The miracles which Christ worked in expelling demons were
for the benefit, not of the demons, but of men, that they might glorify
Him. Wherefore He forbade them to speak in His praise. First, to give us
an example. For, as Athanasius says, "He restrained his speech, although
he was confessing the truth; to teach us not to care about such things,
although it may seem that what is said is true. For it is wrong to seek
to learn from the devil when we have the Divine Scripture": Besides, it
is dangerous, since the demons frequently mix falsehood with truth. Or,
as Chrysostom [*Cyril of Alexandria, Comment. in Luc.] says: "It was not
meet for them to usurp the prerogative of the apostolic office. Nor was
it fitting that the mystery of Christ should be proclaimed by a corrupt
tongue" because "praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner" [*Cf.
Theophylact, Enarr. in Luc.]. Thirdly, because, as Bede says, "He did not
wish the envy of the Jews to be aroused thereby" [*Bede, Expos. in Luc.
iv, 41]. Hence "even the apostles are commanded to be silent about Him,
lest, if His Divine majesty were proclaimed, the gift of His Passion
should be deferred."
Reply to Objection 4: Christ came specially to teach and to work miracles for the
good of man, and principally as to the salvation of his soul.
Consequently, He allowed the demons, that He cast out, to do man some
harm, either in his body or in his goods, for the salvation of man's
soul---namely, for man's instruction. Hence Chrysostom says on Mt. 8:32
that Christ let the demons depart into the swine, "not as yielding to the
demons, but first, to show . . . how harmful are the demons who attack
men; secondly, that all might learn that the demons would not dare to
hurt even the swine, except He allow them; thirdly, that they would have
treated those men more grievously than they treated the swine, unless
they had been protected by God's providence."
And for the same motives He allowed the man, who was being delivered
from the demons, to suffer grievously for the moment; yet did He release
him at once from that distress. By this, moreover, we are taught, as Bede
says on Mk. 9:25, that "often, when after falling into sin we strive to
return to God, we experience further and more grievous attacks from the
old enemy. This he does, either that he may inspire us with a distaste
for virtue, or that he may avenge the shame of having been cast out." For
the man who was healed "became as dead," says Jerome, "because to those
who are healed it is said, 'You are dead; and your life is hid with
Christ in God'" (Col. 3:3)
Article 2: Whether it was fitting that Christ should work miracles in the heavenly bodies?
Objection 1: It would seem that it was unfitting that Christ should work
miracles in the heavenly bodies. For, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv),
"it beseems Divine providence not to destroy, but to preserve, nature."
Now, the heavenly bodies are by nature incorruptible and unchangeable, as
is proved De Coelo i. Therefore it was unfitting that Christ should cause
any change in the order of the heavenly bodies.
Objection 2: Further, the course of time is marked out by the movement of the
heavenly bodies, according to Gn. 1:14: "Let there be lights made in the
firmament of heaven . . . and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and
for days and years." Consequently if the movement of the heavenly bodies
be changed, the distinction and order of the seasons is changed. But
there is no report of this having been perceived by astronomers, "who
gaze at the stars and observe the months," as it is written (Is. 47:13).
Therefore it seems that Christ did not work any change in the movements
of the heavenly bodies.
Objection 3: Further, it was more fitting that Christ should work miracles in
life and when teaching, than in death: both because, as it is written (2
Cor. 13:4), "He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the
power of God," by which He worked miracles; and because His miracles were
in confirmation of His doctrine. But there is no record of Christ having
worked any miracles in the heavenly bodies during His lifetime: nay,
more; when the Pharisees asked Him to give "a sign from heaven," He
refused, as Matthew relates (12,16). Therefore it seems that neither in
His death should He have worked any miracles in the heavenly bodies.
On the contrary, It is written (Lk. 23:44,45): "There was darkness over
all the earth until the ninth hour; and the sun was darkened."
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Article ) it behooved Christ's
miracles to be a sufficient proof of His Godhead. Now this is not so
sufficiently proved by changes wrought in the lower bodies, which changes
can be brought about by other causes, as it is by changes wrought in the
course of the heavenly bodies, which have been established by God alone
in an unchangeable order. This is what Dionysius says in his epistle to
Polycarp: "We must recognize that no alteration can take place in the
order end movement of the heavens that is not caused by Him who made all
and changes all by His word." Therefore it was fitting that Christ should
work miracles even in the heavenly bodies.
Reply to Objection 1: Just as it is natural to the lower bodies to be moved by
the heavenly bodies, which are higher in the order of nature, so is it
natural to any creature whatsoever to be changed by God, according to His
will. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxvi; quoted by the gloss on
Rm. 11:24: "Contrary to nature thou wert grafted," etc.): "God, the
Creator and Author of all natures, does nothing contrary to nature: for
whatsoever He does in each thing, that is its nature." Consequently the
nature of a heavenly body is not destroyed when God changes its course:
but it would be if the change were due to any other cause.
Reply to Objection 2: The order of the seasons was not disturbed by the miracle
worked by Christ. For, according to some, this gloom or darkening of the
sun, which occurred at the time of Christ's passion, was caused by the
sun withdrawing its rays, without any change in the movement of the
heavenly bodies, which measures the duration of the seasons. Hence Jerome
says on Mt. 27:45: "It seems as though the 'greater light' withdrew its
rays, lest it should look on its Lord hanging on the Cross, or bestow its
radiancy on the impious blasphemers." And this withdrawal of the rays is
not to be understood as though it were in the sun's power to send forth
or withdraw its rays: for it sheds its light, not from choice, but by
nature, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv). But the sun is said to withdraw
its rays in so far as the Divine power caused the sun's rays not to reach
the earth. On the other hand, Origen says this was caused by clouds
coming between (the earth and the sun). Hence on Mt. 27:45 he says: "We
must therefore suppose that many large and very dense clouds were massed
together over Jerusalem and the land of Judea; so that it was exceedingly
dark from the sixth to the ninth hour. Hence I am of opinion that, just
as the other signs which occurred at the time of the Passion"---namely,
"the rending of the veil, the quaking of the earth," etc.---"took place
in Jerusalem only, so this also: . . . or if anyone prefer, it may be
extended to the whole of Judea," since it is said that "'there was
darkness over the whole earth,' which expression refers to the land of
Judea, as may be gathered from 3 Kgs. 18:10, where Abdias says to Elias:
'As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom whither my
lord hath not sent to seek thee': which shows that they sought him among
the nations in the neighborhood of Judea."
On this point, however, credence is to be given rather to Dionysius, who
is an eyewitness as to this having occurred by the moon eclipsing the
sun. For he says (Ep. ad Polycarp): "Without any doubt we saw the moon
encroach on the sun," he being in Egypt at the time, as he says in the
same letter. And in this he points out four miracles. The first is that
the natural eclipse of the sun by interposition of the moon never takes
place except when the sun and moon are in conjunction. But then the sun
and moon were in opposition, it being the fifteenth day, since it was the
Jewish Passover. Wherefore he says: "For it was not the time of
conjunction."---The second miracle is that whereas at the sixth hour the
moon was seen, together with the sun, in the middle of the heavens, in
the evening it was seen to be in its place, i.e. in the east, opposite
the sun. Wherefore he says: "Again we saw it," i.e. the moon, "return
supernaturally into opposition with the sun," so as to be diametrically
opposite, having withdrawn from the sun "at the ninth hour," when the
darkness ceased, "until evening." From this it is clear that the wonted
course of the seasons was not disturbed, because the Divine power caused
the moon both to approach the sun supernaturally at an unwonted season,
and to withdraw from the sun and return to its proper place according to
the season. The third miracle was that the eclipse of the sun naturally
always begins in that part of the sun which is to the west and spreads
towards the east: and this is because the moon's proper movement from
west to east is more rapid than that of the sun, and consequently the
moon, coming up from the west, overtakes the sun and passes it on its
eastward course. But in this case the moon had already passed the sun,
and was distant from it by the length of half the heavenly circle, being
opposite to it: consequently it had to return eastwards towards the sun,
so as to come into apparent contact with it from the east, and continue
in a westerly direction. This is what he refers to when he says:
"Moreover, we saw the eclipse begin to the east and spread towards the
western edge of the sun," for it was a total eclipse, "and afterwards
pass away." The fourth miracle consisted in this, that in a natural
eclipse that part of the sun which is first eclipsed is the first to
reappear (because the moon, coming in front of the sun, by its natural
movement passes on to the east, so as to come away first from the western
portion of the sun, which was the first part to be eclipsed), whereas in
this case the moon, while returning miraculously from the east to the
west, did not pass the sun so as to be to the west of it: but having
reached the western edge of the sun returned towards the east: so that
the last portion of the sun to be eclipsed was the first to reappear.
Consequently the eclipse began towards the east, whereas the sun began to
reappear towards the west. And to this he refers by saying: "Again we
observed that the occultation and emersion did not begin from the same
point," i.e. on the same side of the sun, "but on opposite sides."
Chrysostom adds a fifth miracle (Hom. lxxxviii in Matth.), saying that
"the darkness in this case lasted for three hours, whereas an eclipse of
the sun lasts but a short time, for it is soon over, as those know who
have seen one." Hence we are given to understand that the moon was
stationary below the sun, except we prefer to say that the duration of
the darkness was measured from the first moment of occultation of the sun
to the moment when the sun had completely emerged from the eclipse.
But, as Origen says (on Mt. 27:45), "against this the children of this
world object: How is it such a phenomenal occurrence is not related by
any writer, whether Greek or barbarian?" And he says that someone of the
name of Phlegon "relates in his chronicles that this took place during
the reign of Tiberius Caesar, but he does not say that it occurred at the
full moon." It may be, therefore, that because it was not the time for an
eclipse, the various astronomers living then throughout the world were
not on the look-out for one, and that they ascribed this darkness to some
disturbance of the atmosphere. But in Egypt, where clouds are few on
account of the tranquillity of the air, Dionysius and his companions were
considerably astonished so as to make the aforesaid observations about
Reply to Objection 3: Then, above all, was there need for miraculous proof of
Christ's Godhead, when the weakness of human nature was most apparent in
Him. Hence it was that at His birth a new star appeared in the heavens.
Wherefore Maximus says (Serm. de Nativ. viii): "If thou disdain the
manger, raise thine eyes a little and gaze on the new star in the
heavens, proclaiming to the world the birth of our Lord." But in His
Passion yet greater weakness appeared in His manhood. Therefore there was
need for yet greater miracles in the greater lights of the world. And, as
Chrysostom says (Hom. lxxxviii in Matth.): "This is the sign which He
promised to them who sought for one saying: 'An evil and adulterous
generation seeketh a sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign
of Jonas the prophet,' referring to His Cross . . . and Resurrection . .
. For it was much more wonderful that this should happen when He was
crucified than when He was walking on earth."
Article 3: Whether Christ worked miracles fittingly on men?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ worked miracles unfittingly on men. For
in man the soul is of more import than the body. Now Christ worked many
miracles on bodies, but we do not read of His working any miracles on
souls: for neither did He convert any unbelievers to the faith mightily,
but by persuading and convincing them with outward miracles, nor is it
related of Him that He made wise men out of fools. Therefore it seems
that He worked miracles on men in an unfitting manner.
Objection 2: Further, as stated above (Question , Article ), Christ worked miracles by
Divine power: to which it is proper to work suddenly, perfectly, and
without any assistance. Now Christ did not always heal men suddenly as to
their bodies: for it is written (Mk. 8:22-25) that, "taking the blind man
by the hand, He led him out of the town; and, spitting upon his eyes,
laying His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And, looking
up, he said: I see men as it were trees walking. After that again He laid
His hands upon his eyes, and he began to see, and was restored, so that
he saw all things clearly." It is clear from this that He did not heal
him suddenly, but at first imperfectly, and by means of His spittle.
Therefore it seems that He worked miracles on men unfittingly.
Objection 3: Further, there is no need to remove at the same time things which
do not follow from one another. Now bodily ailments are not always the
result of sin, as appears from our Lord's words (Jn. 9:3): "Neither hath
this man sinned, nor his parents, that he should be born blind." It was
unseemly, therefore, for Him to forgive the sins of those who sought the
healing of the body, as He is related to have done in the case of the man
sick of the palsy (Mt. 9:2): the more that the healing of the body, being
of less account than the forgiveness of sins, does not seem a sufficient
argument for the power of forgiving sins.
Objection 4: Further, Christ's miracles were worked in order to confirm His
doctrine, and witness to His Godhead, as stated above (Question , Article ). Now
no man should hinder the purpose of his own work. Therefore it seems
unfitting that Christ commanded those who had been healed miraculously
to tell no one, as appears from Mt. 9:30 and Mk. 8:26: the more so, since
He commanded others to proclaim the miracles worked on them; thus it is
related (Mk. 5:19) that, after delivering a man from the demons, He said
to him: "Go into thy house to thy friends, and tell them, how great
things the Lord hath done for thee."
On the contrary, It is written (Mk. 7:37): "He hath done all things
well: He hath made both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak."
I answer that, The means should be proportionate to the end. Now Christ
came into the world and taught in order to save man, according to Jn.
3:17: "For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but
that the world may be saved by Him." Therefore it was fitting that
Christ, by miraculously healing men in particular, should prove Himself
to be the universal and spiritual Saviour of all.
Reply to Objection 1: The means are distinct from the end. Now the end for which
Christ's miracles were worked was the health of the rational part, which
is healed by the light of wisdom, and the gift of righteousness: the
former of which presupposes the latter, since, as it is written (Wis.
1:4): "Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body
subject to sins." Now it was unfitting that man should be made righteous
unless he willed: for this would be both against the nature of
righteousness, which implies rectitude of the will, and contrary to the
very nature of man, which requires to be led to good by the free-will,
not by force. Christ, therefore, justified man inwardly by the Divine
power, but not against man's will. Nor did this pertain to His miracles,
but to the end of His miracles. In like manner by the Divine power He
infused wisdom into the simple minds of His disciples: hence He said to
them (Lk. 21:15): "I will give you a mouth and wisdom" which "all your
adversaries will not be able to resist and gainsay." And this, in so far
as the enlightenment was inward, is not to be reckoned as a miracle, but
only as regards the outward action---namely, in so far as men saw that
those who had been unlettered and simple spoke with such wisdom and
constancy. Wherefore it is written (Acts 4:13) that the Jews, "seeing the
constancy of Peter and of John, understanding that they were illiterate
and ignorant men . . . wondered."---And though such like spiritual
effects are different from visible miracles, yet do they testify to
Christ's doctrine and power, according to Heb. 2:4: "God also bearing
them witness by signs and wonders and divers miracles, and distributions
of the Holy Ghost."
Nevertheless Christ did work some miracles on the soul of man,
principally by changing its lower powers. Hence Jerome, commenting on Mt.
9:9, "He rose up and followed Him," says: "Such was the splendor and
majesty of His hidden Godhead, which shone forth even in His human
countenance, that those who gazed on it were drawn to Him at first
sight." And on Mt. 21:12, "(Jesus) cast out all them that sold and
bought," the same Jerome says: "Of all the signs worked by our Lord,
this seems to me the most wondrous---that one man, at that time despised,
could, with the blows of one scourge, cast out such a multitude. For a
fiery and heavenly light flashed from His eyes, and the majesty of His
Godhead shone in His countenance." And Origen says on Jn. 2:15 that "this
was a greater miracle than when He changed water into wine, for there He
shows His power over inanimate matter, whereas here He tames the minds of
thousands of men." Again, on Jn. 18:6, "They went backward and fell to
the ground," Augustine says: "Though that crowd was fierce in hate and
terrible with arms, yet did that one word . . . without any weapon, smite
them through, drive them back, lay them prostrate: for God lay hidden in
that flesh." Moreover, to this must be referred what Luke says (4:30)
---namely, that Jesus, "passing through the midst of them, went His way,"
on which Chrysostom observes (Hom. xlviii in Joan.): "That He stood in
the midst of those who were lying in wait for Him, and was not seized by
them, shows the power of His Godhead"; and, again, that which is written
Jn. 8:59, "Jesus hid Himself and went out of the Temple," on which
Theophylact says: "He did not hide Himself in a corner of the Temple, as
if afraid, or take shelter behind a wall or pillar; but by His heavenly
power making Himself invisible to those who were threatening Him, He
passed through the midst of them."
From all these instances it is clear that Christ, when He willed,
changed the minds of men by His Divine power, not only by the bestowal of
righteousness and the infusion of wisdom, which pertains to the end of
miracles, but also by outwardly drawing men to Himself, or by terrifying
or stupefying them, which pertains to the miraculous itself.
Reply to Objection 2: Christ came to save the world, not only by Divine power,
but also through the mystery of His Incarnation. Consequently in healing
the sick He frequently not only made use of His Divine power, healing by
way of command, but also by applying something pertaining to His human
nature. Hence on Lk. 4:40, "He, laying His hands on every one of them,
healed them," Cyril says: "Although, as God, He might, by one word, have
driven out all diseases, yet He touched them, showing that His own flesh
was endowed with a healing virtue." And on Mk. 8:23, "Spitting upon his
eyes, laying His hands on him," etc., Chrysostom [*Victor of Antioch]
says: "He spat and laid His hands upon the blind man, wishing to show
that His Divine word, accompanied by His operation, works wonders: for
the hand signifies operation; the spittle signifies the word which
proceeds from the mouth." Again, on Jn. 9:6, "He made clay of the
spittle, and spread the clay upon the eyes of the blind man," Augustine
says: "Of His spittle He made clay---because 'the Word was made flesh.'"
Or, again, as Chrysostom says, to signify that it was He who made man of
"the slime of the earth."
It is furthermore to be observed concerning Christ's miracles that
generally what He did was most perfect. Hence on Jn. 2:10, "Every man at
first setteth forth good wine," Chrysostom says: "Christ's miracles are
such as to far surpass the works of nature in splendor and usefulness."
Likewise in an instant He conferred perfect health on the sick. Hence on
Mt. 8:15, "She arose and ministered to them," Jerome says: "Health
restored by our Lord returns wholly and instantly."
There was, however, special reason for the contrary happening in the
case of the man born blind, and this was his want of faith, as Chrysostom
[*Victor of Antioch] says. Or as Bede observes on Mk. 8:23: "Whom He
might have healed wholly and instantly by a single word, He heals little
by little, to show the extent of human blindness, which hardly, and that
only by degrees, can come back to the light: and to point out that each
step forward in the way of perfection is due to the help of His grace."
Reply to Objection 3: As stated above (Question , Article ), Christ worked miracles by
Divine power. Now "the works of God are perfect" (Dt. 32:4). But nothing
is perfect except it attain its end. Now the end of the outward healing
worked by Christ is the healing of the soul. Consequently it was not
fitting that Christ should heal a man's body without healing his soul.
Wherefore on Jn. 7:23, "I have healed the whole man on a Sabbath day,"
Augustine says: "Because he was cured, so as to be whole in body; he
believed, so as to be whole in soul." To the man sick of the palsy it is
said specially, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," because, as Jerome observes
on Mt. 9:5,6: "We are hereby given to understand that ailments of the
body are frequently due to sin: for which reason, perhaps, first are his
sins forgiven, that the cause of the ailment being removed, health may
return." Wherefore, also (Jn. 4:14), it is said: "Sin no more, lest some
worse thing happen to thee." Whence, says Chrysostom, "we learn that his
sickness was the result of sin."
Nevertheless, as Chrysostom says on Mt. 9:5: "By how much a soul is of
more account than a body, by so much is the forgiving of sins a greater
work than healing the body; but because the one is unseen He does the
lesser and more manifest thing in order to prove the greater and more
Reply to Objection 4: On Mt. 9:30, "See that no man know this," Chrysostom says:
"If in another place we find Him saying, 'Go and declare the glory of
God' (cf. Mk. 5:19; Lk. 8:39), that is not contrary to this. For He
instructs us to forbid them that would praise us on our own account: but
if the glory be referred to God, then we must not forbid, but command,
that it be done."
Article 4: Whether Christ worked miracles fittingly on irrational creatures?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ worked miracles unfittingly on
irrational creatures. For brute animals are more noble than plants. But
Christ worked a miracle on plants as when the fig-tree withered away at
His command (Mt. 21:19). Therefore Christ should have worked miracles
also on brute animals.
Objection 2: Further, punishment is not justly inflicted save for fault. But
it was not the fault of the fig-tree that Christ found no fruit on it,
when fruit was not in season (Mk. 11:13). Therefore it seems unfitting
that He withered it up.
Objection 3: Further, air and water are between heaven and earth. But Christ
worked some miracles in the heavens, as stated above (Article ), and likewise
in the earth, when it quaked at the time of His Passion (Mt. 27:51).
Therefore it seems that He should also have worked miracles in the air
and water, such as to divide the sea, as did Moses (Ex. 14:21); or a
river, as did Josue (Josue 3:16) and Elias (4 Kgs. 2:8); and to cause
thunder to be heard in the air, as occurred on Mount Sinai when the Law
was given (Ex. 19:16), and like to what Elias did (3 Kgs. 18:45).
Objection 4: Further, miraculous works pertain to the work of Divine
providence in governing the world. But this work presupposes creation. It
seems, therefore, unfitting that in His miracles Christ made use of
creation: when, to wit, He multiplied the loaves. Therefore His miracles
in regard to irrational creatures seem to have been unfitting.
On the contrary, Christ is "the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24), of whom it
is said (Wis. 8:1) that "she ordereth all things sweetly."
I answer that, As stated above, Christ's miracles were ordained to the
end that He should be recognized as having Divine power, unto the
salvation of mankind. Now it belongs to the Divine power that every
creature be subject thereto. Consequently it behooved Him to work
miracles on every kind of creature, not only on man, but also on
Reply to Objection 1: Brute animals are akin generically to man, wherefore they
were created on the same day as man. And since He had worked many
miracles on the bodies of men, there was no need for Him to work miracles
on the bodies of brute animals. and so much the less that, as to their
sensible and corporeal nature, the same reason applies to both men and
animals, especially terrestrial. But fish, from living in water, are more
alien from human nature; wherefore they were made on another day. On them
Christ worked a miracle in the plentiful draught of fishes, related Lk. 5
and Jn. 21; and, again, in the fish caught by Peter, who found a stater
in it (Mt. 17:26). As to the swine who were cast headlong into the sea,
this was not the effect of a Divine miracle, but of the action of the
demons, God permitting.
Reply to Objection 2: As Chrysostom says on Mt. 21:19: "When our Lord does any
such like thing" on plants or brute animals, "ask not how it was just to
wither up the fig-tree, since it was not the fruit season; to ask such a
question is foolish in the extreme," because such things cannot commit a
fault or be punished: "but look at the miracle, and wonder at the
worker." Nor does the Creator "inflict" any hurt on the owner, if He
choose to make use of His own creature for the salvation of others;
rather, as Hilary says on Mt. 21:19, "we should see in this a proof of
God's goodness, for when He wished to afford an example of salvation as
being procured by Him, He exercised His mighty power on the human body:
but when He wished to picture to them His severity towards those who
wilfully disobey Him, He foreshadows their doom by His sentence on the
tree." This is the more noteworthy in a fig-tree which, as Chrysostom
observes (on Mt. 21:19), "being full of moisture, makes the miracle all
the more remarkable."
Reply to Objection 3: Christ also worked miracles befitting to Himself in the air
and water: when, to wit, as related Mt. 8:26, "He commanded the winds,
and the sea, and there came a great calm." But it was not befitting that
He who came to restore all things to a state of peace and calm should
cause either a disturbance in the atmosphere or a division of waters.
Hence the Apostle says (Heb. 12:18): "You are not come to a fire that may
be touched and approached [Vulg.: 'a mountain that might be touched, and
a burning fire'], and a whirlwind, and darkness, and storm."
At the time of His Passion, however, the "veil was rent," to signify the
unfolding of the mysteries of the Law; "the graves were opened," to
signify that His death gave life to the dead; "the earth quaked and the
rocks were rent," to signify that man's stony heart would be softened,
and the whole world changed for the better by the virtue of His Passion.
Reply to Objection 4: The multiplication of the loaves was not effected by way of
creation, but by an addition of extraneous matter transformed into
loaves; hence Augustine says on Jn. 6:1-14: "Whence He multiplieth a few
grains into harvests, thence in His hands He multiplied the five loaves":
and it is clearly by a process of transformation that grains are
multiplied into harvests.